Rare starfish

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Rare starfish Paulia horrida found in Peru<

Peruvian scientists have been showing off a rare species of starfish found deep in the coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean.

Researchers diving out of Punta Sal, a small beach community on Peru’s northern Pacific coast, recently found three starfish species they did not know existed in the area.

Among them was the rare starfish Paulia horrida – a brilliant red species that lives in deep water. They also found Astropecten regalis and Meyenaster gelatinosus.

“All three of the species we found are starfish, but they have very different habitats. For example, Astropecten regalis, from Los Manglares, lives in very shallow water and eats very small organisms like worms and organic matter that accumulate in the sand where they live,” said marine biologist Yuri Hooker.

“The second species is Paulia horrida. It’s a little known species, possibly because it’s a deep water starfish. We found it scuba diving at 35m. Although we know the area very well, we had never found it in more shallow water. In the case of Paulia horrida, it feeds on coral and we found it on rocks where there is coral. It is characterised by an intense red colour and large spines that mostly protects it from predators,” continued Mr Hooker.

Mr Hooker added that Peru’s waters are not extensively studied and could hold more undiscovered treasures.

“There are few people researching Peru’s oceans. The probability of finding new species is rather large and we try to convince new researchers to study the ocean’s biodiversity,” the biologist said.

Mr Hooker and his colleagues are looking to promote research and expand on protected areas on the Peruvian coastline.

See gallery: http://www.inforegion.pe/portada/129815/descubren-tres-nuevas-especies-de-estrellas-de-mar-en-costas-peruanas/

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